NRL Preview: Eels welcome Moses boost, Panthers trio ruled out & Fonua-Blake returns

We have previewed every game in round 11 of the 2020 NRL campaign.

Thursday, July 23

Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers (10:55am)

The Eels look to bounce back following a disappointing defeat to Manly last week. Their second loss of the year takes them off top spot and into second behind Penrith but even in defeat, Parramatta still showed they are devastating in attack. The Tigers came back firing after losing two games in a row and showed exactly what they can be capable of with a highly impressive win over Brisbane. The new combo of Benji Marshall and Billy Walters in the halves seemed to do the trick alongside youngster Harry Grant throwing himself into unexpected Dally M contention at dummy half. It is no secret coach Michael Maguire has consistently changed his side throughout the year but it still remains to be seen whether this 17 can continue to work and push themselves further into the top eight.

Team news: Parramatta trio Mitchell Moses, Blake Ferguson and Ryan Matterson are all set to start for the Eels.

The Tigers make just the one change with Michael Chee Kam replacing Luke Garner in the back-row.

Friday, July 24

North Queensland Cowboys v Manly Sea Eagles (9am)

The Sea Eagles found themselves on the back of three straight losses and outside the top eight last week with a string of injuries hampering their progress. However, they will have boosted their moral after handing Parramatta only their second loss of the season. They still sit outside a finals spot but Des Hasler will no doubt be hoping his side can build on such an impressive victory. They now face North Queensland who certainly gave Penrith a scare last week after leading 10-4 but again would succumb to a loss as the Panthers roared back. The Cowboys sit in 12th spot with only three wins to their name as they continue to deal with inconsistency and defensive woes.

Team news: The Cowboys name the same side that lost out to the Penrith last week.

The Sea Eagles front-row is given a boost as Addin Fonua-Blake (suspension) returns with Taniela Paseka moving to the bench.

Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm (10:55am)

The Storm have had to relocate to the Sunshine Coast recently due to a COVID-19 restrictions being placed in the state of Victoria but their first home game in Queensland still could not have gone any better after dismantling Gold Coast. The return of Cameron Munster was pivotal and with the win they keep the pressure on the top two and now face a Brisbane side that a week after ending a six-game skid were brought back down to earth with a shattering halt in a big loss to the Tigers.

Team news: Brisbane youngster Tesi Niu is out with Anthony Milford moving to full-back and Tom Dearden set to partner Brodie Croft in the halves. Herbie Farnworth and Kotoni Staggs return from injury and Cory Paix replaces Issac Luke (suspended) at hooker.

The Storm name the side that took down the Titans last week.

Saturday, July 25

New Zealand Warriors v Sydney Roosters (6am)

The Warriors season went from bad to worse last week as they were on the end of a substantial loss to the Sharks. The hits also keep coming as they face a Roosters side that will no doubt be fired up after their loss to Canberra. A second loss in three games at this point in the season will not be what the doctor ordered for the Roosters so there does not look to be much doubt that they will come out firing here with that attacking quality waiting to be unleashed.

Team news: Patrick Herbert (head knock) is out with Adam Pompey coming in at centre while Wayde Egan (hip) and Agnatius Paasi (shoulder) are replaced by Karl Lawton and Jazz Tevaga at hooker and lock respectively.

A big loss for the Roosters sees Angus Crichton (knee) sidelined and Mitch Aubusson is the man to replace him in the second-row.

Cronulla Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons (8:30am)

They may have started the game off poorly, but the Dragons came roaring back to clinch a last-minute win over Canterbury in round 10. After a torrid start to the year, St George Illawarra looked to have found themselves on a much surer footing recently while Paul McGregor seems to have mitigated some of the pressure that was on him and his side earlier on in the season. They now face Cronulla who bounced back from a defeat to Penrith to cruise to a dominant victory over the Warriors. The Sharks have quietly gone about their business this year as they start to find a groove in attack and now sit just outside the top eight in ninth but level on points with South Sydney and Wests Tigers who sit just above them.

Team news: Cronulla duo Scott Sorensen (knee) and Briton Nikora (suspended) sit out with Toby Rudolf and Siosifa Talakai taking the vacant spots.

Tariq Sims’ suspension means Tyrell Fuimaono starts in the Dragons back-row.

Canberra Raiders v South Sydney Rabbitohs (10:35am)

Despite all their injury concerns, Canberra put together a resolute performance against the Roosters while exacting some revenge for their 2019 Grand Final loss in the process. The loss of Josh Hodgson was always going to be a huge blow, but Siliva Havili slotted in at the dummy half impressively last week while the likes of Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii led the way for Ricky Stuart’s side. They now have another tricky fixture here as they face the Rabbitohs team who have been on a decent run as of late and only just came up short against the Knights last week. The Bunnies have won four of their last six games and have seemingly clicked into gear recently, but Wayne Bennett will certainly be annoyed with their first half display against Newcastle.

Team news: Semi Valemei starts on the Canberra wing with Jordan Rapana moving to centre. The Raiders have also named John Bateman on the reserves as the back-rower looks to make his way back from a shoulder injury.

Both Ethan Lowe (neck) and James Roberts (pec) are out while Campbell Graham returns at centre. Bailey Sironen starts in the Rabbitohs second-row.

Sunday, July 26

Newcastle Knights v Canterbury Bulldogs (5:05am)

The Bulldogs continued their torrid start to the season with a disappointing loss to the Dragons despite leading 22-10 at half time. However after a couple of huge errors they eventually squandered their lead and now sit right at the foot of the ladder and it does not get any easier as they face Newcastle who managed to pull off a tight victory over the Souths in round 10. The Knights stay right within the top four mix, but no doubt coach Adam O’Brien will be looking for a more complete performance defensively this time round after giving away three tries in seven minutes against the Bunnies.

Team news: The Knights can take comfort in naming the same side that saw victory over the Souths in round 10.

The Bulldogs make a couple of changes with Jake Averillo back from quarantine at centre and Brandon Wakeham taking a spot on the bench.

Gold Coast Titans v Penrith Panthers (7:05am)

The Titans certainly put in plenty of effort against Melbourne last week and Justin Holbrook can be pleased with their first half performance but in the end, they were outdone by the star quality of Melbourne’s attack and by their own errors. Meanwhile, the Panthers are the new faces at the top of the table thanks to a great run of form finally paying off. The club were steered to victory by the influential Nathan Cleary against North Queensland as he continues to work wonders in the Penrith halves alongside an impressive forward pack.

Team news: Treymain Spry drops out as Dale Copley comes back into the side while Beau Fermor is replaced by another Titans returnee in Kevin Proctor.

The Panthers trio of Api Koroisau (elbow), Dylan Edwards (hamstring) and Dean Whare all take a spot on the sidelines as Mitch Kenny, Caleb Aekins and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak fill the roles vacated.

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